Thinking Biblically About Essential Oils

Several years ago my wife got into essential oils. In the area where we lived, they were all the rave at the time and after doing some research Steph bought a “starter kit” and we have been using them ever since. I was skeptical at first, but it didn’t take long to win me over. I enjoyed the pleasant aroma, and I could see how they supported our wellness needs in a variety of different ways.  

Even though our family has greatly benefited from essential oils, I have become concerned about how some Christians market these oils. Over the years, Steph and I have watched how some have used Christianity to promote their business. 

In this article, I would like to list three cautions for Christians when it comes to essential oils.

1. Expecting more out of oils than they can give.

Let’s be realistic. While many people could benefit from the use of essential oils, be careful that your sales pitch is not over the top. Some distributors cross the line big time when it comes to this.

Let me cut right to the chase. You are going to die. I am going to die. You can take all the essential oils you want, but you are still going to die (Hebrews 9:27). 

And for many, this reality hit home when Gary Young, founder and former CEO of Young Living passed away at the age of 68. Many of you have probably never heard that name before, but Young is the man most responsible for the resurgence of interest in essential oils. He lived a very full life but I think a lot of people in essential oils were surprised when he passed away at that age.  

Christians need to be careful that we don’t elevate the body in a way that is unbiblical. We should take care of ourselves through exercise (1 Timothy 4:8), healthy eating, and taking medicine as needed. But we must always remember that we are mortal creatures and our time here on earth is short (Psalm 39:5) when it is set against the backdrop of eternity.

2. Using Church buildings to promote your business.

There is a growing trend of having essential oil “parties” at churches. Rather than having a party in your own home, or the home of another distributor, having such meetings in a church offers added benefits. There is plenty of space, a captive audience, and it is all under the guise of Christianity. 

But I would caution against such an ethic. The church is the people of God and the church building is meant to facilitate the Body of Christ as they worship God, are nourished by His Word, and as they fellowship together.

You might remember the story of when Jesus drove out the money changers from the temple. This actually happened not once, but twice. The first time was in John 2 and the second time was right after the triumphal entry and during the passion week. 

Both times a righteous anger came upon Jesus as the house of God was being used for the financial gain of a select few. Jesus said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers” (Luke 19:46).

When we use a church building, we must check our motives. Are we using the facility for the glory of God and the edification of the saints? Or is this just for personal gain?    

3. Being more of an ambassador for oils than for Christ.

The people of God have a very high calling. We are witnesses (Acts 1:8) and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) for the living Christ! Everywhere we go, we carry with us the name of Christ and the message of the gospel. This is exciting! The problem is, all too often we forget our high calling. We forget that we are the chosen of the Lord and instead run after world glory and success.

Without even knowing it, people use Christ rather than be used by Him. When it is convenient, they will use the name of Christ, but it is only as a means to an end. Their goal is not the advance of the gospel, but personal gain.

Similarly, God’s Word can also be used in this way. Not long after we got into oils I read a book called Healing Oils of the Bible. The book has become very popular in oils circles, but the author’s use (or misuse) of Scripture was deeply troubling to me. Are oils mentioned a lot in the bible? Absolutely. Were they often used for medicinal purposes during Bible times? Yes. Are they a major theme of the Bible? Obviously not. As the apostle Paul explains, “we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word” (2 Corinthians 2:17).

I want to encourage you to think carefully and deeply about how your business and your Christian faith intersect. The issues that I am getting at reach far beyond essential oils. Christians are to be “set apart.” We are to live lives of holiness and godliness and that extends in every direction. All too often Christians fall prey to sacred/secular dichotomy which suggests that our “spiritual” lives are somehow separated from our work and business lives. The fallacy of that way of thinking is obvious. Knowing Christ and being his disciples will affect our lives in every conceivable way, including our ethics.

If you have a business of any sort, be honest and upright in all your dealings and use your business for the glory of God and for the furtherance of the gospel (Romans 11:36).  

This article was first published on the Gospel Coalition Canada two years ago.

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